Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The crisis in mental health beds

Perhaps you watched 60 minutes Sunday night about Austin Deeds, son of Virginia state Sen. Creigh Deeds, who left a Virginia hospital emergency room, went home, stabbed his father, and then killed himself. He was mentally ill, and there were no hospital beds. The implication of the story was that America has failed, won't financially support treatment for the mentally ill. But I was around in the 1970s when there was another "civil rights" movement for the mentally ill, led by former patients of institutions, social workers, academics and church do-gooders. With new drugs, small group homes, counseling, etc., large institutions weren't needed, we were told.

In the late 70s we took a friend having a break down to Riverside hospital, he wasn't even a citizen, and he was treated for a week or so, got counseling, drugs, and his life was saved and today is a functioning, healthy person. That couldn't happen today. There are no beds. Take someone to ER today having a breakdown and you might get a few hours of help. And it was liberals, not conservatives, who did this. If the mall shooter of last week in MD had shown signs of his mental illness, his mother would have been helpless, as was the mother of the Sandy Hook shooter. We called it civil rights then; today we call it helpless to save them.

Some bi-polar and schizophrenic people do very well on medication—so well that they decide not to take them any more. But parents can’t always intervene if they are adults, and their hands are tied to get help.  Such a story was told in the December issue of (614) of Adam Helbling who felt a huge let down on medication and he was no long Jesus Christ. We did them no favors when we closed the care facilities in favor of medication.  Both are needed.

No comments: